Posted: Sept. 18, 2021

By Tom LaMarra

Hello Beautiful, trained by Brittany Russell, took the lead in her MATCH Series division and the overall standings with a blowout victory in the $100,000 Weathervane Stakes at Laurel Park Sept. 18. It was her ninth win, eight of which have come at Laurel.

The Weathervane (Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt division) was one of four Series stakes on the Saturday program as MATCH heads toward its 2021 conclusion. Six more races, all at Laurel, remain–two in November and four Dec. 26.

Ridden by Jevian Toledo, Hello Beautiful, owned by Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stab stables, took the lead quickly and appeared on cruise control throughout. She was in front by five lengths after a quarter-mile and steadily increased her lead to 10 1/4 lengths at the finish. The time for the distance was 1:09.56 on a fast track.

Coconut Cake was in contention early and held for second, with Never Enough Time third.

Hello Beautiful has now won seven stakes, all of them in Maryland, and has earned $524,610.

“It could be her best race ever,” trainer Brittany Russell said. “She ran a huge race and she loves Laurel. It’s a new (dirt surface), and she had no issues. She’s very special. She means a lot to us.”

Russell indicated the Maryland Million Oct. 23 at Laurel is probably next for the 4-year-old Maryland-bred filly by Golden Lad, a Maryland-based stallion. Co-owner Parkinson, who follows the MATCH Series standings, said he’s looking forward to the final leg of the division.

The division standings by points are as follows: Hello Beautiful (27), Never Enough Time (22) and Chub Wagon (20). The top two currently qualify for bonus money heading into the final leg.

“She’s a really special filly,” said Toledo, who picked up the mount after Russell’s husband, Sheldon, injured his foot. “I have to give her all the credit. I just put her (on the lead) and she grabbed the bit the whole way. In the stretch I just showed her the stick and she took off.”

$100,000 Twixt Stakes (Filly and Mare Long–Dirt division)

Toledo went back-to-back in MATCH Series action when he guided Dreamalildreamofu to a nose victory over Artful Splatter in the Twixt Stakes at one mile.

Owned by Full of Run Racing and Madaket Stables and trained by Brad Cox, favored Dreamalildreamofu raced in second from the start until the final jump, when she collared Artful Splatter at the wire. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Commissioner covered the one-turn-mile in 1:36.28 on a track rated fast.

Josie finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Artful Splatter.

“I just kept my filly right in behind the leader and I know she’s a nice filly, so I was hoping she would do what she did,” Toledo said. “When I asked her, she responded and got the job done.”

With the Twixt victory and a second in the Grade III Allaire DuPont Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in May, Dreamalildreamofu took the division lead with 17 points, followed by Artful Splatter with 10. There are two legs remaining in the division, and both must start a third time to qualify for MATCH Series bonus money.

$200,000 De Francis Memorial Dash (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt division)

Toledo crossed the wire first aboard Wondrwherecraigis in the six-furlong, Grade III event, but had to settle for second after a disqualification for interference with second-place finisher Jalen Journey.

Ridden by Feargal Lynch for Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen, Jalen’s Journey rated in third until mid-stretch and rallied outside of Wondrwherecraigis, but had to check behind him. The stewards posted an inquiry and Lynch filed an objection.

“Jevian’s horse came out across when my horse was coming with momentum,” Lynch said after the race.

The final time on a fast track was recorded at 1:09.52. Wondrwherecraigis, who crossed the finish three-quarters of a length in front, was placed second. Early leader Kalu finished third.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Jalen’s Journey, a 6-year-old Florida-bred ridgling by With Distinction, won for the eight time in 16 starts. It was his first MATCH Series appearance.

Laki, who finished sixth, made his fifth start of the 2021 Series and picked up 2 additional bonus points. He again leads his division with 21 points, one more than Mucho, who has three Series starts this season with one race left in the division Dec. 26.

$100,000 Polynesian Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division)

Lynch matched Toledo with a stakes double when he guided Team Hurley’s Captain Bombastic, at 10-1 the longest price in a six-horse field, to victory in the one-mile Polynesian. The 4-year-old New York-bred colt by Forty Tales led most the way and held off Cordmaker by a length, with Phat Man third.

The time for the one-turn-mile was 1:36.11 on a track rated fast. After a stewards’ inquiry and an objection by Charlie Marquez, rider of Alwaysmining, Cordmaker was disqualified for interference in the stretch and placed sixth and last. Phat Man and Roadster were elevated to second and third, respectively.

Captain Bombastic, a two-time New York-bred stakes winner, is trained by Asmussen, who also posted a double at Laurel. His assistant, Toby Sheets, said the colt had been training really well in New York in preparation for the Polynesian.

Despite his disqualification, Cordmaker picked up six points, including 5 bonus points for his fourth Series start, and leads his division with 24 points. McElmore Avenue, fourth in the Polynesian, now has 10 points with two more legs to go in the division.

The next MATCH Series events are scheduled for Nov. 13 (Filly and Mare Long–Dirt division) and Nov. 27 (3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division).